When talking about some of the most famous Australian Landmarks, the name “Uluru” comes to mind very quickly.
Wonder Why? Well…Think of a mammoth sandstone monolith that has been standing over the land for around 500 million years, triumphantly facing the sky with its crest.
Sounds interesting! Right? Let’s learn some more exciting facts about Uluru.
1. What is Uluru?
The Uluru is a Sandstone Inselberg- An island mountain formed by rising from erosion flat lands composed of Arkose rock, a sedimentary sandstone that fills the Amadeus Basin.
It is situated in Central Australia (the heart of Australia), or we should say in Australia’s red center and lies to the south of the Northern Territory at a distance of about 290 miles southwest of Alice Springs.
2. Uluru is More Than 500 Million Years Old
Uluru Rock Mountain has stood firmly for more than 500 million years. Just think how many timelines this mountain has experienced, including the era of Dinosaurs! The rock has experienced continuous climate changes throughout this period and hence moulds itself accordingly.
3. The Mensuration and Geology of Uluru
Uluru originally sat under the sea at its bottom. Its prominence is around 348 meters and is 1.9 km wide. The measured perimeter of Uluru is 9.4 Km.
Talking about its geology, Geologists state that Uluru’s composition is mostly Arkose, A coarse-grained sandstone that constitutes Majorly Feldspar (50%) and quartz (25-35%), along with other rock fragments.
4. Uluru Is Also Known As “Ayers Rock”
Explorer William Gosse English-born Australian surveyor, was the first non-aboriginal person to sight Uluru and named it the “Ayers Rock” in honour of Sir Henry Ayers, who served as the Chief Secretary of South Australia.
Under the Dual-naming policy, it became the first dual-named feature officially in the Northern Territory on 15 December 1993. Still, the name was restored to the aboriginal name “Uluru” again on 6 November 2002.
5. The Relation of Uluru and Kata Tjuta
Kata Tjuta– Also known as Mt Olga, is a group of rock formations consisting of 36 domes formed by Conglomerate sedimentary rock. It is about 3497 ft above sea level and covers an area of around 22 sq. Km.
Kata Tjuta and Uluru share common origins and are believed to be of the same age and share similar mineral composition. Both Uluru and Mount Olga are located in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
6. Uluru: The Heritage of Australian Aboriginal People
Though the Australian government owns the land of Uluru on a 99-year lease, it originally belonged to the local Anangu people(aka the Pitjantjatjara people), as they are considered the traditional landowners of this mountain.
Uluru is very significant to the Anangu culture, and their people treat Uluru as a sacred land. They believe Uluru was formed during the earliest times, called the “Dreamtime.”
For the best, the Australian Government returned the ownership of Uluru to the local Pitjantjatjara people on 26 October 1985. The traditional aboriginal community now works together with Parks Australia for its management.
7. Climbing Uluru is prohibited
Uluru holds a unique value among the Anangu aboriginal people, and the mountain has a tremendous spiritual significance among them as they treat Uluru as a sacred rock mountain.
This mountain served as a prayer site for their ancestors for a long time. They believe climbing Uluru is a bad omen as the climbers cross the traditional sacred “Dreamtime” track, and those who climb the mountain after discrediting the saying face death!
The late Princess Diana of Wales and Prince Charles also climbed the mountain in 1983.
Though Climbing Uluru is prohibited, touching it is not, and except for some special sections of the rock guided by the Anangu, you can feel Uluru.
8. Uluru Bags Two UNESCO listings
It is one of the most obvious of all the listed Uluru facts that this massive monolith is essentially notable. Uluru is one of Australia’s most important indigenous sites and highly recognizable natural landmarks.
Uluru was first listed as a natural World Heritage Site under UNESCO listings for its unique geology in 1987, which boosted its tourism significantly such that the annual no. of visitors to Uluru increased by 400000 in 2000.
In 1994, Uluru again bagged a UNESCO title as a cultural site due to its cultural significance to the Aboriginal people. No doubt, it is regarded as the most famous icon of Australia.
9. Vegetation and Wildlife of Uluru
Uluru has a surrounding that has rich flora as well as fauna. Many endemic and rare plant species of Australia are found here. These plants are culturally related to the local aboriginal people and are used by them for their daily needs.
Many trees, such as the Central bloodwood and the mulga, are operated by them to make tools such as spearheads, arrows, etc.
Plants and trees have various traditional uses in the Anangu culture, such as medicines, food, etc. The red sap of the Bloodwood plant has potent disinfectant and antitussive properties.
Talking about the Wildlife fauna near Uluru, it is evident that around 46 mammalian species were present near Uluru, which as of now is reduced to 21. The Kata Tjuta National Park has a rich and wide variety of reptiles (73 known species).
Several animals, such as the Woma python, Marsupial Mole, several frog and bat species, the great desert skink, red kangaroos, spinifex hopping mouse, and many other species, are found in the national park.
The Anangu community is allowed to do confined hunting of certain species such as lizards, bush turkey, red kangaroos, sand gonna, etc.
Several locally extinct animal species, such as the black-flanked rock wallaby, malleefowl, etc., are being supported for reintroduction. In contrast, several others, such as house mice, rabbits, dogs, camel, etc, are introduced.
10. Ayers Rock Seems Changing Its Colour
Yes, I know that every picture of Uluru appears orange in colour, and yes, I am not high! The surface of the stone undergoes surface oxidation, in which the iron of the rock is oxidized and appears orange in colour.
So, in the daytime, its colour seems orange, and by the sunset, it looks reddish and then changes to a purple shade.
11. The Europeans First Mapped Uluru and Kata Tjuta
Archaeologists believe that the ancestral human population inhabited the land of Uluru thousands of years ago. However, European explorers such as Ernest Giles and William Gosse were the first to sight these mounts during their expedition in 1872.
They first mapped them with the help of the Australian Overland Telegraph Line. You know that William named Uluru the Ayers Rock, but also Giles termed Kata Tjuta as “Mount Olga.”
Some Other Quick Facts About Uluru
- The Name “Uluru” has no specific meaning and is called so after a local family name of the senior traditional owners of this land.
- It is fascinating to know that you can find Petroglyphs on several rocks of Uluru, and the surrounding area also consists of waterholes, springs, rock caves, etc.
- Google Australia removed some photos of Uluru, which were sensitive to the Anangu culture, from the Google Maps platform after accepting the request of Parks Australia.
- Due to detrimental environmental concerns, all the tourist accommodation facilities were removed in the early 1970s, and they were ordered to re-establish themselves out of the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park.
- Do you know that an airport is also near Uluru and it will take hardly 20 minutes to reach Uluru from this airport? The airport is also named the “Ayers Rock Airport“.
- Many parts of Australia, including Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and South Australia, were declared Aboriginal reserves from 1918 to 1921.
- Uluru looks the most beautiful either during sunrise or sunset when the orange rays from the sun blend with the hill’s orange colour, making it heavenly and alluring. It is the best time you should go to visit Uluru.
So, these were some of the most exciting and fun facts about Uluru we had in our basket to share with you. But think how much Nature does have in its basket for us! With Uluru, we are not just facing a rock mountain but experiencing nature’s masterpiece, which saw so many different eras of human history.
With its rich cultural history and spirituality, aboriginal Anangu people, exquisite wildlife and vegetation, and immensity, this sandstone mountain will keep on standing like a King.